When the BBC spy thriller Killing Eve first premiered in 2018, the public celebrated not only a superbly written, entertaining, nuanced portrayal of two complex women and their violent relationship — but also the wardrobe.
Actress Jodie Comer plays one of the show’s leads — the aptly named Villanelle — alongside Sandra Oh’s Eve. Since the pilot episode Villanelle’s closet has been a hot topic in pop culture, influencing everything from social media accounts to Oscars red carpet looks.
Though it has created excitement in the fashion industry across the globe, the way Comer is dressed speaks most importantly to Villanelle’s character development within the narrative of Killing Eve.
A young, beautiful, wealthy, queer, international assassin?
Yeah, she’s got some cool clothes.
Each season Killing Eve has intentionally switched out the head writer, championing excellent female screenwriters to create their own cultural moment within the show (including show creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge of Fleabag who also penned season 1).
Similarly, they have also switched out costume designers each season, leading to some of the most unique and dramatic television fashion moments of the past few years — and all kept the spirit of Villanelle at the core of their work.
where it started
The season 1 costume designer was Phoebe De Gaye who was responsible for that fantastic Molly Goddard pink tulle dress that went viral and put this character on the fashion map.
De Gaye called the gown “subversive” in an interview with Vogue, classifying Villanelle’s decision to wear the dress to a psychiatric appointment as a “two fingers up” to her handler who was concerned she was going soft.
The fashion decisions in the first season were an eclectic mix and really fun to watch — as we got to know Villanelle as a character we almost saw her don a new persona for every one of her kills, and she had a fantastic outfit to go with each. From fur coats, to silk robes, to embroidered kimonos, to pinstripe suits, to stolen nurse outfits complete with embellished crocs, Comer looks great in everything.
Charlotte Mitchell became the costume designer for the second season and was tasked with capitalizing on the success of her predecessor. She also had the challenge of dressing Villanelle at the beginning of the season when she’s lost all of her money, and then towards the end of the season when she’s back in the lap of luxury.
She was able to celebrate Villanelle’s more androgynous side by dressing her in exceptional vintage suits and have some fun — like when she put Comer in boy’s pop art pajamas or a manga-inspired Swedish dirndl disguise complete with a pig head. Seriously.
Mitchell championed the show’s writers for creating the moments that let the fashion shine, but also explained how Villanelle’s character influenced her decisions. She told Harper’s Bazaar:
“Villanelle’s wardrobe choices change so radically depending on her mood, which is up and down. She’s a psychopath at the end of the day; she doesn’t have any consistency. It’s my job to work it all out.”
where it went
For the third season, Sam Perry took on the role of costume designer, to much acclaim. She received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Contemporary Costumes for her work.
According to an interview with TRIPWIRE, Perry’s work hinges not only on taking direction from the script but also collaborating with others on set — particularly, hair and makeup designer Juliette Tomes and production designer Laurence Dorman — to make sure the looks she creates flow seamlessly within the narrative and the set.
In the third episode in the season Villanelle has come to realize Eve is alive after she shot her and left her for dead in the finale of the second season. Their cat-and-mouse game comes to a head on a public bus where the two physically fight and then, finally, have their first kiss. Perry ultimately decided to dress Villanelle in a Chalayan men’s suit for the scene, telling E! in an interview:
“[I] could’ve put [Villanelle] into another amazing dress or something quite fantastical but I felt it was better to put her in the suit … make it more muted, have them both in grays coming together, and then all the colors in the background on the bus and everything that’s going on around them."
Later in the season, we see Comer in a flamboyant Charlotte Knowles furry, green, tartan, shearling, bomber jacket, which Perry used to highlight how Villanelle had become “unsettled.” She told NET-A-PORTER:
“I hoped it would illustrate her changing state of mind; she is literally a lovable monster in it. You want to hug her, but she might well bite your head off.”
By the season 3 finale, Villanelle has become more secure in her sense of self and her future. She and Eve reunite on a bridge in London and the atmosphere is somber. Villanelle steals the spotlight in a yellow Loewe coat that gives the audience a beacon of hope for their relationship as the two part ways again, both stopping to look back at the other.
where it's going
Based on the trailer for the upcoming season 4, it appears as if Villanelle is attempting to atone for her sins, even talking to a therapist about her desire to stop killing and trying to prove to Eve that she’s changed.
For the first time, Sam Perry has returned as costume designer for this final season of Killing Eve. First look images show Villanelle in both a red cassock (worn by the clergy of the Catholic church) as well as a psychedelic tye-dye t-shirt that says “What Would Jesus Do?” — highlighting religious imagery in a way that is still quintessentially Villanelle. It’s clear that this character will hold on to her eclectic style even as she tries to transform herself and her life.
In a teaser video posted by the official Killing Eve Instagram account, we see the infamous pink Molly Goddard dress (and the pig head) on fire. Is this a metaphor for shedding the past? Baptism by fire? Regardless, there is very clearly a relationship between Villanelle’s clothing and her character arc that is built into the DNA of this show — and Sam Perry is the lucky one who gets to wrap up that narrative.
The Killing Eve wardrobe tells as much of the story as the scriptwriters or the actors and I’m excited to see how that plays out in the final season, and in whatever project Sam Perry works on next.
You can stream Killing Eve season 4 on Hulu. The first episode will air on 2/27/22 with the following seven episodes dropping weekly.
"Anna Delvey is a masterpiece, bitches" or what the internet is saying about upcoming netflix series inventing Anna
The titular character (Anna Sorokin aka Anna Delvey, a real-life socialite-wannabe who scammed NY's elite out of hundreds of thousands) shouts about herself in the third person in the trailer for upcoming Shondaland/Netflix mini-series Inventing Anna:
"Anna Delvey is a masterpiece, bitches!"
Continue reading to find out what the showrunner, actors, media outlets, and the public have to say about this exciting new show.
Let me give you a brief introduction to this polarizing socialite swindler, for those of you having escaped the 2017 “Summer of Scam” — which Artforum’s Chloe Wyma describes as the “cultural moment marked by a popular fascination with grifters, from quack biotech girlboss Elizabeth Holmes to disgraced coworking-space messiah Adam Neumann to Fyre Festival douche Billy McFarland” — and of course the “Ponzi Princess,” Anna Delvey.
Anna may call herself a masterpiece, but various media outlets across the internet have found other ways to describe her:
“… a faux heiress who charmed and then scammed the downtown elite while posing as an insouciant Eloise of Soho’s hippest hotels and restaurants.”-- Chloe Malle, Town & Country
“…a fraudulent, self-styled German ‘heiress’”— Jennifer Savin, Cosmopolitan
“… a hardscrabble arriviste who begged, borrowed, and stole from New York’s financial and cultural elite in a Gatsbyean crusade to erect her eponymous trophy museum–cum–Soho House–style members’ club in the landmarked Church Missions House building on Park Avenue South.” — Chloe Wyma, Artforum
and my personal favorite:
“… a Balenciaga Bernie Madoff”— Phil de Semlyen, TimeOut
In May 2018 journalist Jessica Pressler broke the story for New York Magazine — a 25-year-old fake German trust-fund darling who had swindled NYC’s elite, skipping out on $30k hotel bills and globetrotting on her friends’ dime to the tune of $62k, all while rubbing elbows with the upper echelons of society and forging bank documents in an attempt to secure a $25M loan to launch an exclusive Soho-based art club called the The Anna Delvey Foundation.
Her scams, and the police, caught up with her in 2017 and after four felony convictions she found herself serving 4 to 12 years on Rikers Island — where she proceeded to sell her story to both Netflix and HBO, write a memoir, and plan a series of NFTs based on her time in prison.
Despite her crimes and her aloof pretentiousness, actress Julia Garner, showrunner Shonda Rhimes, and journalist Jessica Messler who also works as a producer on Inventing Anna, all have more forgiving opinions of Anna — calling her “extremely charming,” “gentle,” and “brilliant.”
Garner explained her warmth toward the con artist, claiming:
“You can’t dislike the person you’re playing for eight, nine months. That’s going to come across on the screen, and the performance isn’t going to be as good. She had her reasons why she did all the things she did.” — Julia Garner to WSJ
And Rhimes maintains:
“Everybody has their idea of who Anna is, and everybody had their own experience of being with Anna.” — Shonda Rhimes to Variety
I’d say that true of anyone who has crossed her path — in NYC, Europe, or Rikers.
Shonda Rhimes production company Shondaland acquired the rights to Anna Sorokin-Delvey’s story in 2018. Inventing Anna is the first show Rhimes herself has written since jumping from ABC to Netflix (in addition to producing the epically popular Bridgerton for the platform).
Rhimes explained her initial interest in Delvey:
“She’s got an eidetic memory. She speaks all these languages. There wasn’t much different about her than any other boy genius who takes over Manhattan — except for the fact that she was a woman.” — Shonda Rhimes to Variety
Emmy-winning Ozark actress Julia Garner plays Delvey in all of her pseudo-glamour and gilded millennial narcissism.
Inventing Anna positions the investigation into Delvey at the heart of the story. The tale of faux-fortune and eventual downfall is told through the POV of journalist Vivian Kent (based on Jessica Pressler) played by Anna Chlumsky (Veep).
Other cast highlights include Arian Moayed (Succession) as Anna’s real-life defense attorney Todd Spodek, Laverne Cox (OITNB) as celebrity trainer Kacy Duke, and Katie Lowes (Scandal) as Anna’s ex-friend Rachel Deloache Williams.
The show embraces it’s meta-ness, winking at viewers with a disclaimer at the beginning of each episode:
"This story is completely true. Except for the parts that are totally made up."
In preparation for the role of Anna Delvey, Garner visited her in Rikers prison, studied her mannerisms in interviews, and of course, practiced her elusive accent — which the inmate begged to hear.
It wasn’t easy to perfect the otherworldly accent of a Russian-born, German-raised, London-educated, NYC-dwelling “aristocratic” millennial with a penchant for the dramatic.
Garner explained to Town & Country how much time and energy she put into Delvey’s accent, which required changing the way she moved her tongue and mouth in comparison to the accent of her character Ruth on Ozark, and was even caught by her husband speaking in the accent in her sleep.
She recently showcased her process of developing the accent with Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show, to much public praise.
Garner has received high accolades from others working on the show, as well:
“Julia approaches her roles from an intellectual place that allows for the precision and dexterity needed to delve into the mind and spirit of a character. Anna Delvey is a person who goes through many transformations to reach her goals. Given Julia’s range, we knew this was something she could deliver on.” — Shonda Rhimes to Town & Country
“They’re physically very different. Julia inhabits her without physically looking like her. It was amazing. That’s not hair and makeup, that’s proper acting.” — Jessica Pressler to Town & Country
Julia Garner is a well-loved actress and, if the comments on the trailer are any indication, viewers thrilled to see her portray this larger-than-life woman.
Whether it’s appreciation of Julia Garner, or the multitude of other A-list actors in the show, the fascination with the story, the loyalty of Shonda Rhimes and her television prowess, or a love/hate feeling toward Anna herself, it’s clear that anticipation for Inventing Anna is high.
Obviously there is no way to determine what the response to the show will be after it airs, but if these comments are any indication, Inventing Anna is sure to be another checkmark in the “win” column for Rhimes and everyone involved.
Hey, maybe it will even join Bridgerton on the list of top ten shows streamed on Netflix.
Although the majority of people are excited about the new mini-series, some are criticizing the media’s obsession with Anna Sorokin/Delvey and argue that the attention and money she’s receiving from these projects is exactly what she was looking for, and perpetuates the idea that these types of white-collar crimes aren’t as condemnable as others.
It’s true that Sorokin is being paid for Netflix’s rights to her story, but a large portion of that money was commandeered by the courts and used to pay the restitution she owed her victims. After being released from prison, Delvey was allegedly using the rest of the funds to pay a film crew to follow her around for an undetermined future project, before being detained by ICE in March 2021 for overstaying her visa.
For her part, Shonda Rhimes brings up the issue of gender, and describes how the actions that Delvey took weren’t much different than what men on Wall Street do every single day.
“Had she been a man, I’m not sure it would have caused such a ruckus. If she had been a hot chick, I’m not sure she would have caused such a ruckus. But because she was an ordinary-looking woman, who was smart and brilliant and went for what she wanted, and felt no remorse about it, people were outraged or shocked or stunned or fascinated.” — Shonda Rhimes to Variety
Despite this argument, some commenters are concerned that Inventing Anna and other shows like it are contributing to the problem by glamorizing Delvey’s crimes.
Despite whether the show ends up condemning Delvey’s actions or glorifying them, viewers only need to look to the real Anna Sorokin for proof that crime certainly does pay.
Regardless, it’s sure to be a wild ride.
All episodes of Inventing Anna will be available to stream on Netflix Fb 11th.
I know I’m a few years late, but I just watched season 1 of CBS’s crime drama FBI and I was… underwhelmed.
For those of you who don’t know, FBI is a procedural crime drama on CBS from Dick Wolf, creator of the Law & Order and One Chicago franchises. FBI is the first of Wolf’s shows to not appear on NBC and is currently awaiting renewal for its 5th season. The show follows the elite crime-stopping team that makes up the New York field office of the FBI and has already spawned two spinoff shows, FBI: International and FBI: Most Wanted.
To be fair, I started watching FBI on the back of bingeing seasons 1–4 of S.W.A.T. which expertly intertwines interesting cases, character relationships, and poignant cultural statements. That’s not to say that FBI doesn’t consist of nuanced and well-crafted cases that are delivered by a stellar cast, including leads Missy Peregrym and Zeeko Zaki, Law & Order alum Jeremy Sisto, Sela Ward, and the exceptional newbie Ebonee Noel.
I knew I wanted to watch FBI because I love crime shows and procedurals, but mostly because I’ve been obsessed with actress Missy Peregrym for forever. Most viewers have only gotten to know her since her debut on FBI but I’ve been a fan for over a decade after getting hooked on Canadian cop show Rookie Blue (2010–2015)— a series I’ve watched several times over. In that, Peregrym begins as rookie cop Andy McNally, full of good instincts, wit, and charm, and matures over six seasons into one of the best police officers in the city. Not to mention her series-long love story with fellow officer and detective Sam Swarek (Ben Bass).
Viewers were hooked on the pair from the pilot and it truly was their complicated and heart-wrenching on-again-off-again relationship that was at the center of the show. Of course there were thrilling and suspenseful episode- and season-related cases to cover as well as the personal lives of the rest of the ensemble cast, but it was really Peregrym and Bass that sold it. Having known and loved this actress and her previous character for over a decade I was so excited to watch FBI and fall in love all over again. And then that… didn’t quite happen.
FBI is thought-provoking, cerebral, and has been consistently in the top 5 highest rated shows on CBS since its debut, but I was still expecting more of an emotional punch. By the end of Rookie Blue’s first season I was invested in Andy McNally and what happened to her. After 22 episodes of FBI I’m thrilled that Agent Maggie Bell figured out who murdered her husband, but also… I kind of don’t care?? She’s one half of the show’s lead pair and literally the only things we know about her are that her husband died, she’s from Indiana, and she’s a really good FBI agent. That’s it.
By the end of FBI’s first season we have way more information about male lead Special Agent Omar “OA” Zidan (Zeeko Zaki) than we do about Maggie. There were two or three episodes specifically related to his character and viewers learned about his background in the army, his dead father and fraught relationship with his sister, as well as his Egyptian ethnicity and Muslim faith (both attributes the character and actor share), and how those things affect his experience as a law enforcement officer. This is all excellent and I applaud the show for diving into issues of such cultural significance (despite show creator Dick Wolf claiming FBI is inherently apolitical). But — why can’t we know more about Maggie too?? As the female lead she should be given more characterization than just being a widow. There’s more to a woman than having once been married to a man. And Missy Peregrym has already proven she can easily carry a more sophisticated internal story.
The end of the season didn’t leave viewers with any kind of cliffhanger — everything was tied up in a neat little bow. Special Agent in Charge Dana Moiser (Sela Ward) announced her retirement in the finale so there will probably be a new boss lady in season 2, and it’s suggested that analyst Kristen Chazal (Ebonee Noel) will be promoted to Special Agent, but there’s no other hints at what may happen next or what might come back to haunt our characters.
Even the case of Maggie’s murdered husband Jason was expertly solved in the finale with Maggie handling her job and her emotions exactly right, despite the personal nature of the case. I understand this is a procedural show, but there has to be an element that pulls us back in, no? There wasn’t a single episode where Agents Bell and Zidan and the rest of the team didn’t save the day and catch the bad guys. After 22 episodes it got to be predictable, and without any losses, all of the wins became a little stale. It could be argued that viewers have no incentive whatsoever to come back to FBI season 2 unless they are really just into the cases and figuring out whodunnit.
Obviously, successful crime procedurals are an area that show creator Dick Wolf is skilled and well-versed in, as the man behind the Law & Order franchise. However, he’s also the creator of the supremely popular One Chicago shows which are still procedural but ultimately center around the personal lives of the characters. It’s probable that FBI was created to more closely follow the Law & Order formula and since it has already been renewed for 4 seasons and has spawned two spinoffs, they are clearly doing something right.
Ultimately, FBI delivers exactly what it promises. It’s a fast-paced, high-intensity, procedural, that requires viewers use their brain to follow along. And despite Dick Wolf’s claims, I think many of the show’s cases bring attention to important global issues we’re currently facing surrounding race, gender, economics, and social justice.
I just wish they had made me care a little bit more about who is telling the story.
I’ll be back with more after watching season 2! (No spoilers, please.)
Money, Dick, Power: How Lifetime's Unreal is getting men to watch "tv for women"
The mantra spoken by the female stars of UnREAL in their Season 2 promo could just as easily be Lifetime’s new catch-phrase as they attempt to use this show to rebrand their network based on “Television for Women” as something darker and sexier — hoping to appeal to a wider audience.
When UnREAL premiered on Lifetime last summer no one believed that a show that seemed like nothing more than a parodic meta-commentary on The Bachelor would be anything other than fantasy fodder for lonely housewives desperately searching for a soap opera replacement.
Instead, it’s become a critically acclaimed media sensation, highlighting issues of sexism and racism in the television industry, as well as commenting on the questionable construction of reality TV, and exploring how one might lose their sense of right and wrong in such an environment. Not to mention the complexities of love in romance in the 21st Century — especially when influenced by substance abuse, mental illness, greed, or lust.
It’s fresh, scathing, and binge-worthy.
Created by well-known television writer/producer Marti Noxon (of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame) and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro (a former producer on The Bachelor), UnREAL is truly created by strong female showrunners about strong female showrunners and it’s self-reflexiveness and gender commentary is unmatched by any other show on television right now. Shiri Appleby plays Rachel Goldberg, a brilliant producer for a fictional reality romance show Everlasting, who fights continuously between feeling guilty about her manipulative actions and impressing her headstrong, take-no-prisoners, ball-busting boss Quinn King (Constance Zimmer) who wants nothing more than salacious story lines and is willing to ruin anyone to get them.
In Season 1, Rachel finds herself in a love triangle between her cameraman ex-boyfriend Jeremy (Josh Kelly), and the “suitor” of Everlasting Adam (Freddie Stroma), and Quinn herself is the mistress to the married Everlasting creator Chet (Craig Bierko) — all of which must be navigated while puzzling together then meta-romantic story lines of the reality show they produce. However, for what seems like a show about romance and heterosexuality, UnREAL quickly becomes more about the complex relationships between women — the one’s who do the manipulating, the contestants they have control over, and, more importantly, the “romance” between Rachel and Quinn.
By the Season 1 finale all romantic relationships have disintegrated — for Rachel, Quinn, and suitor Adam. At the end of the episode Quinn and Rachel ruminate on the devastation they’ve caused to themselves and everyone around them, and seem to have nothing left but each other and the soul-sucking show they’ve given their lives over to. With dejectedly expressed “I love you”s to each other, the focus on their relationship that appears to permeate Season 2 (if the trailer is any indication) is nicely set up. That moment also highlights for more casual viewers the fact that UnREAL is not actually about how Reality TV producers create fairytale romances, or even a critique of shows like The Bachelor, but is truly a look into these two women and who they choose to be as professionals and people.
But, in following tradition, this female-focused endeavor has raised questions about men’s role, influence, and response: How has a show about real, complex, flawed (and working!) women from the (also) female-focused Lifetime network been able to garner and impress male audiences? Why does this male audience seem so important to the show creators and actors? Is UnREAL promoting more authentic portrayals of women on television? Or is it perpetuating the stereotypes about women’s television and contributing to its delegitimization?
In the Pilot of Season 1 we see Rachel running around the set, unwashed and haggard (as is her usual appearance, a dramatic shift from traditional beauty standards often reinforced on television) donning a sweatshirt that says, “THIS IS WHAT A FEMINIST LOOKS LIKE.” Perfectly summating the dichotomy of this show, this first impression of Rachel — constantly battling between being a woman who believes in female empowerment and spending every waking moment undermining all of the women around her, and succumbing to the incredibly sexist nature of Everlasting — also provides a fantastic layer of irony.
So, again, how is a meta-reality-romance show that highlights strong-willed women bringing in male audiences and is it changing perspectives about women on television?
Lifetime certainly used overt sexuality and heteronormativity to promote Season 1 of UnREAL, creating posters featuring both Appleby and Zimmer nude. (Also including Josh Kelly despite the fact that he has a relatively small role in the show). This approach suggested to audiences that UnREAL would fulfill their expectations of sex and drama — but then they delivered something so much more: a nuanced portrayal of real women and the personal and professional obstacles they continuously create and have to overcome.
Since the show began to win awards, gain critical attention, and effectively legitimize itself, Lifetime has been marketing Season 2 in a way that is much more true to the actual substance of the show. The promos have been focused solely on Rachel and Quinn and their complete control over Everlasting, featuring one-liners such as “The two of you together are terrifying,” Rachel’s “We don’t solve problems. We make them, and point cameras at them,” and of course Quinn’s “Money, dick, power.”
In an interview with IndieWire Zimmer discusses the way that Lifetime and the creators and actors of UnREAL are helping each other, as Zimmer and Appleby are able to show the rawness and realness of their characters, and in turn the network is able to use the fresh content as part of their rebranding efforts. For example, it was at Zimmer’s insistence that her character say the word “pussy” rather than the sanitized “hoo-ha.”
In fact, in the same interview it’s revealed, “one interesting challenge, put to [Shapiro and Noxon] by Lifetime, was figuring out how to bring in a male audience.” To which Shapiro responded, “That seems pretty hard . . . because that brand is so specific. But the fact that there are men responding to it is just a testament to the hard work that all these guys have done.”
So there was intention on the part of Lifetime to appeal to men.
Is this brasher approach an effort on their part to celebrate a portrayal of complex characters that their female audience can relate to? Or is the intention to convince men of their validity and raise their viewership?
As Professor Kathleen Battles acknowledged, “To me one of the best parts of UnREAL is precisely its consideration of the ways that patriarchy shapes the lives of women, from its unrelentingly cynical take on romance to its consideration of workplace politics.” However, in it’s ability to observe and critique sexism in television through UnREAL, Lifetime somehow still made it all about men: Zimmer notes, “men were ultimately enjoying seeing flawed women. There was really pretty girls who had incredible bodies on our show, but those weren’t the ones people were talking about. People were talking about the ones that were ugly — ugly personalities.” While the promotion of putting more realistic women on television and men’s positive response to characters who are not presented as supermodel-level beautiful are both applause-worthy feats, the implied necessity of male approval for the show’s legitimation leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
UnREAL certainly does seem to be successfully raking in male viewers, though. In just one example, Zimmer recounted an experience at SXSW of a male friend in his 60s who was blown away by the show’s novel exploration of gender politics and suggested that all men should watch it for insight into the female psyche. But, it’s also important to note that he had no intention of ever attending a Lifetime screening at SXSW and only subjected himself to “Television for Women” on Zimmer’s insistence.
The “convincing” of men to watch the show, and their “surprise” at enjoying it seems to be more complicated than creating a wider audience or impressing men with images of real women. As Professor Christine Becker smartly noted, comments from men such as “Who knew I’d like a show on lifetime?” or “I’m actually a guy watching a Lifetime show!” continue to operate under the assumption that television for women couldn’t possibly be insightful in it’s own right, and it’s only through this new approach that male viewership of UnREAL could be as anything more than a guilty pleasure. This way of thinking suggests that it is only when men are watching the show, and enjoying the show, that it has any credibility or legitimacy.
So, what does it mean when a show about women working in television is (unintentionally I assume?) contributing to sexist stereotypes within the industry?
The answer is unclear.
Bierko says: “[UnREAL] is moving women forward in the industry. There’s a whole population of talented women over 28. They actually exist. It takes a long time to affect these changes, but this is a push in the right direction.” And it is bringing much deserved attention to people like Zimmer and her talent. I think it’s excellent that such a greater awareness has been brought all of the outstanding work that the women of UnREAL are doing, both behind and in front of the camera.
However, it’s not a stretch to think that when Quinn raises her fist in the air, displaying her and Rachel’s matching wrist tattoos of “money, dick, power,” that the claim is not only a comment on their professional prowess — but possibly Lifetime’s own new mantra.
Oh my bananas bajeesus. I just finished the episode before the Season 4 finale of Parenthood. I'm literally dying. Of course there's been a whole bunch of shenanigans going on in the show (Drew and Amy getting pregnant and having an abortion - Jesus H!) but no shocker I have been obsessed with Sarah's storyline with Mark and Hank.
Obviously from the last post I made about this show I was team Mark 10000%. But that was when the other options were Sarah alone or Sarah with Seth. And the thing is, I absolutely love Mark as a character and the whole development of their relationship... but that was before Hank came into the picture.
Okay -- even though I can seriously only see this guy as Ray Romano, I am kind of low key obsessed with his character and how his connection with Sarah has developed. He's got this cynical, brooding, artist thing going on (where Mark is more of a sweet, caring, artist) and the way that Sarah has been able to bring him out of his shell and pull some genuine feelings from him actually melts my heart into a pink squishy mess. (And as actually disturbing and painfully weird as it is for me to admit -- Hank has got some tall, dark, and handsome foxiness going on. I can see it.)
I AM STRUGGLING SO HARD. I obviously had been pining so hard for Mark and Sarah to work out - and they did and it was magical! But then Hank was introduced and I found myself wanting him and Sarah to get together so badly. When the engagement with Mark was falling apart I felt so sad for Sarah and how her happy ending was disintegrating, but also it was so cute to see Hank and Sarah actually begin to start a relationship. AND NOW THERE IS PISSING-CONTEST-FIGHT-COMPETITION-MAN-DUEL HAPPENING TO WIN SARAH'S HEART AND I AM LIVING FOR IT.
I have no idea what to think or feel or want. Usually I am solidly on one side or another when it comes to ships on shows, and I've never been so completely on the fence before. This is a brand new feeling for me. I've never seen a love triangle on TV (trust me I've seen many) where I've genuinely liked both options, both people, and the kind of relationships they have with the middle person. I know this is dramatic and I am fangirling to an embarrassing degree, but I'm just having a lot of ~feels~ and I can't articulate them all.
I'm so nervous and excited to watch and see what happens and what Sarah will decide. I also know that no matter what someone I like is going to be sad, and it could even be all three of them, which would be awful. (But also not? Girl power? Feminism? Help!) AND the next episode is a season finale so there is definitely potential for a time jump and oh my god anything can happen with that. I'm so anxious!
I will not be watching the finale tonight because I don't want to torture myself (and also I want to torture myself) so I will save it for a time when I can jump right into the next season after. (Which is another weird OCD habit I have when it comes to TV.) I want more more more but I'm also sad because the more I get the closer I'm getting to the end of the series and I know that's gonna make me so sad.
ANYWAY, I am going to take my dramatic-ass-self to bed and try not to stay up all night thinking about fictional characters lives. I do not predict I will be sucessful. I'll check in with you guys at least once more post-Parenthood. Be prepared for a lot of tears (from me).
FROM SCREEN TO (VERY SMALL) sTAGE
As a self-proclaimed fangirl one of my favorite things in the world is getting to see the objects of my affection in the flesh. Since there aren't a whole lot of celebs just walking around my little corner of the world, this means I spend a lot of time at concerts and small shows.
Below are five TV stars (of various popularity) who have shifted their focus to music, and who I've had the unique experience of seeing live. (Stay tuned til the end -- the last one's a doozy!)
Just two days ago at Portland House of Music I had the extremely confusing and time-warping experience of seeing Drake Bell in "concert." A few friends of mine grabbed tickets and I wasn't about to miss a chance to travel back in time to my childhood Nikelodeon days. I had no idea what I was getting into.
Having previously had no freaking idea that Drake Bell even made music I had no inclination as to what kind of show he was going to put on. THEN my friend shared his most recent release with me, a song called Rewind... and the music video which was basically porn. Coupled with the conspiracies I've heard floating around about Mr. DB possibly leaking his own nudes... I was expecting something a little graphic/R&B/intense, if a little laughable.
Well. That is not what happened.
The kid (I say kid because that's what he is in my head despite the fact that he's 32) came out on stage in a red and blue striped polo looking every bit like the Drake we know and love from Drake & Josh. Not only did he look like strange man child with his greasy hair side-parted, but he also stood on stage with nothing and no one else besides his trusty acoustic guitar. Yes, an acoustic guitar.
He proceeded to play 45 minutes of strange sappy folk-y acoustic songs, ended with an encore of the Drake & Josh theme song, and never played nor mentioned Rewind or the fact that he's apparently making two very drastically different types of music.
I don't want to be so harsh as to call him a washed-up child star, but... it wasn't a pretty sight. 10/10 for entertainment value, but that's more due to the disbelief of what we were seeing than the quality of the show.
Honorary Mention: The opener for Drake Bell was Kira Kosarin who apparently also got her start on Nikelodeon much more recently on a show called The Thundermans (never seen it). She's obviously very, very fresh to the scene but low key was a better time. She's young but gives off heavy wannabe-Jojo vibes. I don't hate it.
Speaking of Jojo -- I saw last year at Port City Music Hall, and although she's clearly been recognized far more for being a musician than an actress, I still think she counts. I mean -- Aquamarine and RV are some pretty stellar films, no? Just being in the presence of someone who's been in the presence of Robin Williams is pretty amazing in my book.
She's a complete badass and supremely talented artist and it was one hell of a show she put on. I can't say that I remember every detail because girlfriend is short as hell and so am I, so my view from the back of the venue was not stellar. (Not to mention the few beverages I had...)
Nevertheless I had a fantastic time and I love Jojo's music and all the positive feminine energy she puts out into the world. Queen. QUEEN.
I know, I know. Rick Springfield was a musician way, way before he ever stepped foot in front of a camera. He probably came out of the womb strumming a guitar. HOWEVER, our 80s heartthrob did spend a little bit of time on the small screen -- playing Dr. Drake Sr. on the soap opera General Hospital.
The concert was a time, let me tell you. It was an acoustic set. The audience was compiled of housewives and stay-at-home-moms with an average age of 54, and the set was peppered with long winded stories of yesteryear. There was a slideshow of old photos playing in the background. When he came down into the audience, we were almost trampled by some hot and bothered older ladies. It was a time. It was awesome.
Okay - some might say that Aaron Carter does not count as an actor in any way shape or form. You'd say he's a musician. I'd agree. But he did appear on one very specific television episode that's extremely important to me: the "I Want Candy" episode of Lizzie McGuire
This is all to say, that when I landed at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston in 2016 not only was I excited to see the grown up hot man version of Aaron take his clothes off (youtube videos of his sets prepared me for this inevitability), but I also wanted to see the real life version of the boy I once loved. I was not disappointed.
His shirt did come off. There were two female backup dancers. There was a lot of autotune and some long sad stories. There was a photo taken of the crowd in which I absolutely hid behind my friend so as not to be visible among the 30 other people in the room. I saw Aaron-freaking-Carter.
I went to a Pizza Underground show and to this day it was one of the most unique experience I've ever had. (Also MC walked by me and literally brushed up against my arm and I actually died.) The songs were about pizza. They were giving out actual slices of pizza. The band had some actual instruments made out of trash. The drummer was dressed as Anchovy Warhol. There was a slideshow of cats in the background.
Macaulay Culkin is one of the most peculiar and fascinating people ever seen and I will not ever forget the bizzare and weird and strange and awesome night of the PIzza Underground show. And I will continue to watch Home Alone 2 every winter of my life and will love both versions of this boy/man/child/human.
There you have it - five stars who've hit the stage in my little corner of the universe!
Okay, so when I say parenthood is a time-suck, you might be thinking that I'm a mother. Guess what? I'm not. Although I'm well aware that being a parent is the best way to never have any time ever again. BUT. What's been soaking up all of my minutes lately is the much loved show... Parenthood.
Currently it's been a little over a week and I'm mid-way through Season 3 (I started again from the beginning because that's who I am) and I'm deep in my feels
Parenthood is really a heartwarming show. It tackles so many sensitive topics: Asbergers, infidelity, infertility, adoption, addiction, and of course the trials and tribulations of being parent and part of a family. It might seem dramatic but it gets pretty emotional in a super real way.
Right now I'm super obsessed with Sarah's storyline with her playwriting and relationship with Mark (Mr. Cyr). Not only do I just love Jason Ritter but his English teacher, thoughtful, sensitive, romantic vibe thing he's got going on with this character actually kills me. I'm obsessed. The way that he and Sarah took that 2 year break out of respect for Amber, and how he encouraged and supported Sarah's writing... it's adorable. And it makes me so happy that they were able to come together after all the time apart.
Now, where I'm at in the season there's been some tension in their relationship because Sarah's ex-husband has come back into the picture and she's helping him go through the process of rehab for his addiction issues. If I've ever watched a TV series (I have) I can sense the crash that's coming... if I'm being honest I don't think their relationship is going to survive the deep familial connection that obviously exists between Sarah and Seth. Mark isn't willing to take a backseat to this guy, and I don't blame him at all. He's doing what's best for him. But it makes me super sad that the happily ever after between him and Sarah probably isn't going to happen. I mean obviously there has to be some tension or there isn't a show, but it doesn't mean that I'm not bummed.
When it comes to Seth I don't know how to feel. I think it's a super interesting dynamic to explore his attempt at sobriety and his relationships with his kids, Amber and Drew, but I'm worried about how things might progress with him and Sarah. It's obvious that she desperately wants her family to work. The drama, the chaos, the trauma of the years they spent together are impossible to forget, but the thought that they could actually be a functional, happy family for the first time is appeal to her. Intoxicating, even.
I guess I'll see how this storyline progresses, as I'm sure there will be a lot of twists and turns along the way seeing that I'm not even yet halfway through the series yet, which is almost unbelievable to me.
As for the rest of the various family members I'm intrigued to see what happens with Julia and Joel's adoption plans and Adam and Crosby's new music studio. It's really interesting and kind of badass to see the progression of the music studio and I it's cool to see such a unique profession showed on tv in such a casual way. Plus I'm just pumped up for Crosby to succeed since he's one of my absolute favorite characters (duh, Dax).
Alrighty! Those are the thoughts that I have swirling around in my brain since I've been totally submerged in the world of the Braverman family. I'll keep you posted about what sort of emotional rollercoaster I go on through the rest of the series.
Have you watched Parenthood? Leave your thoughts on the series down below!
And please no spoilers!
Next Day Edit: AH Crosby slept with Jasmine! AH Lily! AH Sarah wants to have a baby with Mark! What a freakin' ride just 3 episodes took me on before posting. I effing love this show.
BAD HAIR OF BADASS WOMEN
This post is all about those ladies of television that we know and love and who had to suffer through the epidemic of the late 90s/early 00s "mom" haircut...
These women are hot. They're smokin'. They carry guns. They're moms, they're cops, they slay the boys... SO WHY WERE THEY TORTURED WITH THE EPITOME OF THE 'CAN I SPEAK TO A MANAGER' HAIRSTYLE? Don't get me wrong, I am not passing judgement of the beauty of these actresses or their characters, I just think maybe someone should have put the scissors down.
Let's take a look at some of the most recognizable offenders...
olivia benson - Law & Order SVU
The queen. The legend. Olivia mother-freakin' Benson. She's graced our screens on SVU for nearly 20 years now and she's killed every single second of it. It's no shock that she's had a litany of hairstyles of various lengths in that amount of time - including a striking pixie cut that she pulled off surprisingly well. But alas, Olivia is one of the most memorable wearers of the "mom" haircut. I blame it more on the decade than a true fashion faux pas -- I mean we can't hold 1999 against her -- but it's still fun to look back on the shaggy bob when we're now so used to seeing her long stylish locks.
KATE BECKETT - CASTLE
TARA KNOWLES - SONS OF ANARCHY
Understandably, the hands behind the curtain were trying to soften her character up per the storyline, but it bothered me that they had to give her kind of an awful (sorry!) haircut to literally make her seem more like a "mom." This one can't be blamed on the time period and that's the true tragedy.
DEBRA BARONE - EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND
An oldie, but a goodie. Everybody Loves Raymond was a staple on the screen of my childhood. Ray's wife Debra was one of those classic sitcom moms that lives in your living room and feels like your neighbor. And she looked the part from day one. She wore the cut just like all the other ladies of the 90s who jumped on the style bandwagon, but thankfully add inches to her look as the years went on.
MONICA GELLER - FRIENDS
There some truly classic looks throughout the whole series of Friends, without a doubt. But Monica truly embodied the spirit of the "mom" cut -- in look, in personality, in spirit. She. is. the. mom. cut. It fits, it works, it's true. The epitome of early 90s fashion, and she pulls it off. Dang if I don't love her long hair, but If there is one badass woman I can forgive for this bad hair, it's this lady right here.
So there you have it -- a collage of some pretty cool chicks who all rocked the same questionable look at some point in time. There's no judgement or harm meant here, these are all beautiful women and talented actresses, all jibes in good fun!
Now that Season 2 of The Handmaid's Tale is finally upon us, I thought I would blather on a bit about why I love this show so dang much.
When I first started seeing previews for The Handmaid's Tale on Hulu I was intrigued. At first glance I thought it was just another period drama which aren't usually my thing -- but as soon as I discovered that it was set in modern time I was hooked.
Of course, being the bibliophile that I am, I refuse to watch anything that's based on a book until I've read the book first. So I put The Handmaid's Tale on my to-watch list until I could get my hands on Margaret Atwood's masterpiece.
I finally got a chance to dig in on the novel while on vacation in February. It was a quick read, only taking me a day and a half to finish, but I enjoyed every second of it. There is something about the juxtaposition of the archaic and confining "ideals" being set in a post-modern society. It tripped me out, to be honest.
Although Atwood's work was a really intense and fascinating read as a whole and complete story, one reason I was so excited to begin the Hulu show was to see how much they would be able to expand the story past what was in the book -- and let me tell you, I was not disappointed.
The scariest part of The Handmaid's Tale to me is how very tangible and possible the changes brought forth by the new nation Gilead, really are. As a society based on "biblical" and "moral" values (ie misogyny and tyranny) the propaganda used was eerily easy to swallow and not at all unfamiliar.
In the introduction to the novel (added by the author in the 2015 edition) Atwood explains how when writing the book in the 80s she didn't want to push the idea of a new society so far as to become science fiction. Every tool, idea, practice, and horror used in the book was pulled from history. Handmaids. Hangings. Mutilation. Prejudice in all it's forms.
The true terror of The Handmaid's Tale is the mirror it holds up: a vision of humanity's most vicious truths. It has all been done before.
Throughout the novel reader's learn about this new society, get to know the central character June (now Offred) and begin to understand the painful reality of Gilead through her trauma. But there was no resolve. The story was what it was and then it was over. June's life was what it was and then the book concluded. There were no answers.
This is what is so fantastic about the Hulu original series -- we get to see how the rest of the story might have played out. The secondary characters become more full, tell their own stories, and brand new ideas are brought into the fold. There are so many new paths to travel now thanks to the show.
What will happen now that Moira has escaped and has rejoined Luke? How will June navigate her relationship with Nick now that she knows her husband is alive? What kind of trouble will she get into with Mayday? How will her pregnancy play out?
These are exciting questions that we will now get to fully explore where before we could only speculate the way one does when a great book ends. Even the introduction of the Mexican trade deal raises intriguing questions about how this formation of a new nation might cause ripples across the globe.
It's also an excellent way to show just how much the character has changed as a person after everything she's gone through. Despite everything I know, it's still sometimes difficult for me to reconcile that the smiling, giggling, mother June and pale-faced, subservient Offred are one in the same.
Elisabeth Moss is perfection as June/Offred. Her ability to tell a story with the quirk of an eyebrow or the quiver of a lip is astounding. The internal dialogue we get from her character is clever and funny and I think greatly helps viewers remember that this is indeed a post-modern society. Nothing brings you back to the present like a well-timed "fuck" and Tinder reference -- even if she is wearing a bonnet.
The supporting cast is just as amazing -- especially my ladies. I was thrilled to see a couple of my favorites, Samira Wiley and Alexis Bledel. Although very different, they're a couple of badass babes that I'm excited to see on my screen in Season 2. Yvonne Starhovski as Serena Joy and Madeline Brewer as batshit crazy Janine (one of my favorite characters!) are also highlights of the female cast.
I'm pumped up for the next season of The Handmaid's Tale, not only for that butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling of more story after your favorite book has ended, but also for all of the possibility it holds.
It's one thing to open your eyes to a vicious new world. It's another thing entirely to watch the revolt.
I'll be waiting for the entirety of the second season to conclude before I dive back into the world of Gilead... I just can't bear the idea not bingeing it all at once. From what I hear, it will be well worth the wait.
No Spoilers please!
atomic blonde badassery
A few weeks I was in dire need of a feminist pick-me-up, so I dragged myself to theaters to take in Charlize Theron's new kick-ass spy thriller Atomic Blonde. Set in both the Eat & West sides of Berlin during the Cold War, Theron plays an undercover M16 agent, Lorraine Broughton, who is tasked with stealing back a secret list of double agents. If the idea of a tall blonde feminist badass super-spy kicking ass and taking down big burly men while wearing a mini-skirt and 6-inch-heels peaks your interest -- this movie is for you.
On first thought, one might suspect this film of over-sexualizing the lead to entice wider audiences (ahem, men) to a female-driven thriller, or maybe fostering an unbelievable action-driven plot (back to the fist fighting in skin-tight leather) -- but fortunately, and maybe surprisingly, Atomic Blonde did neither.
As Theron explained in this Vogue article, her wardrobe played a huge part in the characterization of Lorraine: "[B]ecause this movie doesn’t have a ton of dialogue or backstory—we don’t ever really explain who she is and where she comes from—Cindy put me in [outfits] that forced me to behave in a certain way." Not only was this a way to for Theron to express Lorraine's inner world though her outer dress, but it was also a way for her to differentiate Atomic Blonde from other male-dominated action thrillers. Her costume designer Cindy Evans was actually the first to suggest that she perform her action scenes while in her fabulous wardrobe. "She was like, 'You know what? We should do a fight scene in 6-inch heels.' And I was like, 'What?' And she was like, 'Yeah, because Bond could never do it—so you have to,' and I was just like, 'Fuck.'"
One of my favorite aspects of this film was how honest it was when it came to the physicality necessary for Theron to play this role, and the toll it would take on the character. Theron trained for months before filming (often alongside Keanu Reeves who was training for a different film at the same gym), and performed almost of all of her own stunts. Theron as producer, along with director David Leitch, was not only dedicated to the authenticity of her fight scenes, but also was adamant about showing visually the effect that these brawls would have on a woman's body.
I love this aspect of the film because it allows you to witness Lorraine as a the badass elite-level spy that she is, but also see her in her most vulnerable state. She may take down robust Russian spies in a trenchcoat and garter belt, but she doesn't come out of it looking fresh as a daisy, that's for sure. When she gets punched, she bruises. When she gets cut, she bleeds. The neon-meets-noir feel of the movie adds to this reality, by implying emotional wounds that match her physical ones.
The cinematography in Atomic Blonde was beautiful -- some scenes so dark and dangerous that you were convinced Theron was the baddest Femme Fatale there ever was, and other's so neon you could feel the mixed vibrations of desperation and reckless hope from your seat in the theater. The wardrobe, mise-en-scene, and soundtrack all worked together to invoke what once "only belonged to ’80s Berlin and David Bowie." In fact, Bowie in voice and spirit was a large part of the film, according to Theron: "[W]e initially went to David Bowie for one of the roles in the film. We really wanted him to be in the movie but unfortunately, he passed on the role, and then he passed away while we were making the film. We were always going to have a bunch of Bowie songs in it; he was just such a part of the conversation in making this film."
If Atomic Blonde was hoping to electrify a sense of nostalgia in their audience while simultaneously making you want to buy a pair of thigh high boots and take up jiu jitsu, they succeeded.
Atomic Blonde is based on a graphic novel The Coldest City (written by Antony Johnston and Sam Hart, 2015) that was brought to Theron's production company, Denver & Delilah Productions. Explained in this Variety article, she was given the then-unpublished manuscript, which became a passion project for Theron that she ended up spending 5 years working on and felt very strongly about producing. A piece of the story that made it into the film, that never existed in the novel, was Lorraine's tryst with French spy Delphine Lasalle, played by Sofia Boutella.
Rather than hiding their sexual relationship, the two are scene very openly together, in a way that managed to be sexy but somehow not come off as a tired plot device. Neither did it seem to be for the sole benefit of male viewers. Theron's opinion is clear in her interview with Variety: "[T]he sex scenes are right out of the 007 playbook, although Theron rolls her eyes at the comparison. “James Bond doesn’t have such hot you-know-what,” she says. “I loved that we didn’t hide under the sheets.”
The director of the film, David Leitch, also gave his interpretation of the relationship to EW, explaining how it's used to show how Lorraine is able to find pockets of connection in the midst of an extremely trying job that hinges on secrecy and obscured identity. He says: "It was more about if you are a spy you will do whatever it takes to get information. Everything is about survival and getting the mission done. And when you are a character like Lorraine, she will find her intimacies and her friendships in small doses, with anyone she can." This relationship is not a fetishized lesbian encounter or superficial eye candy for viewers, but rather further development of Theron's character.
Overall, I found Atomic Blonde to be both a powerful and an empowering film. It fulfilled all of my most adrenaline-pumping expectations of a spy thriller, while also leaving me with the pure joy that comes from watching women kick ass on screen. Yeah, it may have been a few weeks now since this film left theaters, but do yourself a favor and go get it. A must-see in my book.
Hi, I'm Kassie!
SCREENFEELS is the place where I often rant about the things I'm watching and occasionally write something coherent and thoughtful.
Some posts are re-published pieces from my Medium account, which you can find here.
Follow me on twitter!